Broncos v Dragons preview

Embed from Getty Images
Brisbane Broncos v St George Illawarra Dragons Saturday 7:35pm at Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal

A pivotal mid-table clash at Suncorp in the scrap for a highly competitive top eight spot.

The Brisbane Broncos look to snap a five-game losing streak, where they face the inconsistent and unpredictable St George Illawarra Dragons at home, with the visitors sitting one place above them in 10th.

Brisbane play their second home game in a row, after showing grit and discipline to hold reigning premiers Penrith Panthers to only 14 points last Friday. With their defence seemingly fixed, the burden falls on their attack as they look to score more than the lowly 6 points of their last 80 minutes.

This task proves challenging, as stars Reece Walsh, Selwyn Cobbo, Patrick Carrigan and Payne Haas are unavailable due to Origin duties. Tristan Sailor replaces Walsh at the back, with Tyson Smoothy starting lock, allowing dummy half prospect Blake Mozer to take his 14 jersey. Although an injury to halfback Jock Madden forces Josh Rodgers into the side, the Broncos are bolstered by returns to Kotoni Staggs at centre and Jordan Riki in the second row. 

St George have seen a mixed year under Shane Flanagan, with a loss-win-loss-win pattern from their last eight games providing an accurate summary of their tumultuous season to date. they were stunned by the Roosters last week, falling 42-12 in a showing where they lacked any competitiveness. Still, the Dragons have shown they can beat top teams in 2024 and will be licking their lips at a battered Broncos side.

Zac Lomax and Ben Hunt are out for Origin commitments, which sees Milkaele Ravalawa and Jesse Marschke come into the side. Raymond Faitala-Mariner returns from injury, pushing Luciano Leilua to the bench, where he's joined by Hame Sele in place of the injured Blake Lawrie. Despite not being named to start, Jack Bird at 18th man is a slight chance to sneak into the 17 come game day. 

Last meeting: Round 3 2023 - Broncos 40 Dragons 18

Who to watch: Keep a close eye on fullback Tristan Sailor, who is as exciting as he is at times frustrating. With a strong passing and kicking game, Tristan poses as a dynamic attacking threat. I watched him in the Hostplus Cup last week, and he still didn't look 100% fit from what seems to be a lingering ankle injury. Brisbane will be hoping a solid showing can put any of my concerns about his defensive efforts to bed.

After being controversially overlooked for Origin selection, arguably the form second rower of the competition, ex-Bronco Jaydn Su'a will be gunning for a chance to prove he's still one of the best in his position. I expect him to be fast and powerful up the middle, and with Brisbane having suspect edge defence at times, Su'a has a golden opportunity to make a statement in the biggest way.

FAVOURITE: The Brisbane Broncos are favourites to win at home

MY TIP: I have to admit, St George have been impressive to watch in 2024 and I do think they'll make Brisbane work hard and fight their way through the match. Ultimately, I think too much of the Dragons structure revolves around Ben Hunt and although Brisbane are severely down on men, I think they'll have just enough to squeeze through, with a slight return of form in the week prior certainly bolstering their chances. Brisbane by 8.

1. Tristan Sailor 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Deine Mariner 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Ezra Mam 7. Joshua Rogers 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Xavier Willison 11. Brendan Piakura 12. Jordan Riki 15. Kobe Hetherington 13. Tyson Smoothy 14. Blake Mozer 16. Josiah Karapani 17. Martin Taupau 18. Vaa Semu

1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Christian Tuipulotu 3. Moses Suli 4. Max Feagai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Jesse Marschke 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Jack de Belin 15. Luciano Leilua 12. Jaydn Su'A 13. Tom Eisenhuth 14. Hame Sele 16. Toby Couchman 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila 18. Jack Bird 21. Ryan Couchman

Referees: Liam Kennedy; Sideline Officials: Matt Noyen, Jon Stone; Video Referees: Gerard Sutton;

Follow all the action LIVE in our Match Centre